Thursday, July 11, 2019

DNF Review: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Title: The Last
Author: Hanna Jameson
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 340
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For fans of high-concept thrillers such as Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts, this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war—along with twenty other survivors—who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.

Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.

As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?

I don't remember precisely how I came across The Last, but I was hooked after reading the description! I absolutely adore post apocalyptic fiction and I loved Annihilation, so I knew this would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, this book failed to deliver in almost every aspect.

The Last is a book that really doesn't seem to know what it's doing. At the very start, Jon finds himself stranded in a Swiss hotel as the world around him and everyone he loves ceases to exist. It's spectacular. But once the initial action ends, things begin to meander and get lost. This book quickly became a story about watching random people go throughout their days with no purpose other than getting high and having sex. Which, I mean, sure. If the world is ending, why not? But why is this marketed as a dystopian thriller?

There were also several plot lines that literally went nowhere. One character sees ghosts, but nothing ever comes of it. The main character briefly mentions that he doesn't think they're alone in the hotel, but that is never mentioned again either. There's also a pointless murder mystery that, although I didn't finish the book, I did see had a very unsatisfactory outcome.

I fully expected to be blown away by this book that compares itself to Annihilation, but it was one of the biggest letdowns I've had recently. There was SO much potential here for a great story. If you're looking for a post apocalyptic thrill ride, this is not the one for you. There's no tension here. If you want to read a story about a few people going through the motions in a remote hotel, maybe you'll enjoy it.